Monday, January 17, 2011

100 Tournaments Later...

Last Saturday was a heartbreaker: the Atlanta Falcons were knocked out of the playoffs and I was only a few touches shy of renewing my B or even getting my A.

Even though I actually got a good nights sleep, it was a chancy morning. I lost my first pool bout to an unrated fencer who kept swiping at my legs out of range of my counterattack. I didn't know his rating at the time, but he looked like easy pickings so I didn't proceed as carefully as I should have. This development killed me because I still had an A to face in the pool, and I knew he would want to avenge his loss to me from two months ago. While it was a close bout, I couldn't control the distance and got doubles when only singles would do. Thanks to the tiny pool, I only had a 2-2 record. For those following at home, this result breaks my streak of only losing one bout in the pools the last few events.

DEs were better, but disappointing. I faced a new fellow Dunwoody FC fencer in the first round (had I won the U bout I would have had a bye), and while he tried his best, it was over pretty quickly. When the ref starts calling epee bouts like foil with all the phrase d'armes terms to keep busy, you know it's gotten ugly. The next round was against the 6th seed, who at first fenced my seeding, not me. Once I got untangled from his multiple circle parries, it was just a matter of controlling the distance and keeping the score gap uncomfortably large. The next round didn't go so well. I got down by 4 touches right away, which forced me to attack to make a game of it. I caught up, but I never controlled the distance, so any miscues and miscalculations were costly.

I am upset, but I am anxious to get out there and try again. Even though my pool record suffered (so drinking... helps?), I still made another trip to the round of eight, which is happening with more regularity. The key is focusing on the pools, and mastering the distance at all costs.

As I was researching my bouts on, I noticed a cool thing - I have reached 100 events in the database. Of course, AskFred doesn't record NAC or National Championship results, and I have at least 10 or so competitions that are pre-Fred acceptance - so I hit the magic number sometime in 2010. Still, I am hit by the significance.

The records start in May 2005, soon after I moved to Atlanta. Right away I went from an unrated fencer to an E in epee. I also largely gave up my interest in being a three weapon fencer, especially since the major three weapon clubs in town discouraged the practice. The trend from that point was strong results in D and under events, and respectable but not good results in the Open events.

Unfortunately, after I got my B, my Open results didn't improve all that much. In fact, in the first 10 events rated A2 or better after I got my B, I only broke into the top 10 once. And that event was on New Years Day and I was completely hungover. The scary thing is that I could guess if less or more drinking would have improved that particular result. The worst bit is that of the three or four folks in GA who have improved their rating to a B or better in the last six months, most have renewed in just a few tries.

In the last couple years I was more committed to work, and seeing friends, and fencing mostly in the Div I NACs - but my results there are in need of examination as well. Right now I have more flexibility to train, coach, and compete - which is showing up in my Open results. It just sucks that it's taken almost six years for me to get to a consistently good level.

My fencing goals now are to be a constant fixture in the top 4 in Open A2 events, and in the top 32 at Div I NACs. Right now, looking at my last five results I am averaging in the bottom half of the 8 - which means I need to win one more DE per event. Given I haven't been blown out yet, it is a reachable goal. My NAC results have not been so kind.

To reach both goals I need to focus and fight for every touch in the pool like it is the Olympic final, and to jealously guard the distance like a drunken princess.

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